Submachine 7; jay is games review


Mateusz Skutnik’s Submachine series has kept puzzle and adventure game fans guessing for over five years. With its eerie atmosphere and mysterious narrative, each subsequent installment has only served to raise more questions and wild speculation amongst its fans. If you’ve been waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for another chapter, your loyalty is about to be rewarded. Submachine 7: The Core is finally here… and it’s waiting for you to unlock its secrets.

Use your mouse to interact with your environment and pick up items, which are stored in your inventory on the right. You can click once on an item you’re carrying to pick it up, and then again anywhere else on the screen you want to try using it. Investigate everywhere, sometimes more than once; if something has happened and you’ve made progress, it’s worth revisiting old areas to see if anything has changed, or if you can interact with something new. Since the game saves your progress automatically, you can take time out whenever you want to scrawl “What does it mean?!” over and over on your walls (it’s very therapeutic) before picking up right where you left off.

Analysis: I am going to be honest with you; until now, I had never played any of the Submachine games, and playing them all back to back to prepare myself for this review was a lot like wandering around inside a M.C. Escher painting with H.G. Wells and H.P. Lovecraft as travelling companions. (Hunter S Thompson might have been there too, flicking the back of my head every few minutes.) The series is baffling and intriguing, and has only gotten bigger and more complex as it’s gone on. To say it’s ambitious is putting it mildly, and the fact that Mateusz appears to have only gotten more creative with his brainchild with each chapter is really impressive.

It’s easy to see why the series has earned such a devoted following. Not only is it extremely well made, with subtle ambient noise and clean visuals, but its sparse narrative revealed in notes and snippets for years has fueled a lot of wild speculation. By now Mateusz has his series down to an art and exploring the game just for the sake of enjoying the gorgeous design is rewarding too. The biggest problem you might run into is that like most other games in the series, The Core is prone to giving you very little direction. You might spend a while flailing at switches or spinning valves, not realising that your monkey-like problem solving antics have actually triggered something in a different area even if there was little or no indication anything had changed. You’ll also have to keep your eyes open for small items, and be willing to examine all corners of each area; I spent a while going around in circles, not realising I’d actually missed an area transition next to another one.

Although it initially seems like a very small game, The Core quickly reveals itself to have a big environment for you to explore… provided, of course, you can figure out how to unlock it all. Players hoping for more brain-teasing puzzles such as those found in Submachine 3: The Loop might wish the Core found more balance between those and “use this item here” school of puzzling typically found in adventure games. The game is definitely challenging and requires you to keep your eyes peeled and be diligent in exploring your environment, sometimes more than once. Compared to most other games in the genre, making even a little progress in The Core (or even any game in the series) tends to feel like a big achievement, so go ahead… pat yourself on the back now and again. If you’ve come this far, you’ve certainly earned it.

If you’re hoping for a resolution and answers to all your questions, you might find the “To Be Continued” finale just another reason to camp outside Mateusz’s doorstep. Submachine 7: The Core still offers a lot more pieces of the puzzle, and provides a fantastic realm full of secrets to uncover them in. And, perhaps most important for an adventure game, the series as a whole actually feels like an adventure. So, I’ve got to ask… why are you even still reading this when there’s a whole new world out there for you to explore? Allons-y!

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